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Plan would expand Vicksburg military park

VICKSBURG — Mississippi Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker have proposed expanding the Vicksburg National Military Park to add the battles of Champion Hill, Port Gibson and Raymond.

A bill by the two Republicans would allow the National Park Service to acquire about 10,000 acres to preserve the Civil War battlefields.

The proposal includes three parcels: the Port Gibson Unit in Claiborne County and the Raymond Unit and Champion Hill Unit, both in Hinds County.

“These three battlefields have remarkable historic integrity,” said Mike Madell, park superintendent. “All are much as they were in 1863, except they weren’t paved roads back then. As compared to many battlefields in the East, these are still in very, very good condition.”

The 1863 Vicksburg campaign was a series of maneuvers and battles aimed at taking control of the Mississippi River. The Union Army of the Tennessee under Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant eventually defeated Confederate Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton’s forces, who were stationed around Vicksburg.

“When people think of the Vicksburg Campaign, they tend to think only of the 47-day siege of the city,” Madell said. “There were a lot of battles that had to be fought to get to the siege.”

Terry Winschel, historian at the Vicksburg National Military Park, said the Vicksburg campaign was “the most decisive campaign of the Civil War.”

“These battlefields are of tremendous significance, not only to Mississippi, but to the nation as a whole,” Winschel said.

The expansion proposal comes as historical sites across the nation are preparing for next year’s 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War.

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